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Schäfer's Essentials of Histology, 39.
School, Summer, of Brooklyn Institute, 157; science
Science in high schools, 1; in schools, 142; teachers
Scientific Roll, 349.
Sclavic skulls, 285.
Scott's Chemical Theory, 321.
Telephone, long-distance, 229.
Scripture, E. W., localization in a child, 361; ballistic Telesc pe, large southern, 193.
Seler, E., Palenque tablet, 38; Maya chronology, 80; Thompson, A. H., the face, 7.
Tucker, W. G., purification of water, 34.
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NATURAL SCIENCE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL COURSE.
BY R. ELLSWORTH CALL.
THERE is needed no argument to demonstrate the necessity of training in science. It will be assumed that such training is recognized as essential, and that its attainment can in no manner now be dropped from the curricula of the high schools. It is proposed, therefore, to briefly discuss the theme under (1) Comparative Educational Value, (2) Practical Character of the Information Gained, (3) The Tendencies of the Culture of the Day, and (4) Relations to University Requirements.
Comparative Educational Value.
It appears to be a difficult matter to discuss this feature of the proposed theme without the bias that comes either from one's own training or one's taste. Something must be conceded from either standpoint; but concession is difficult and especially so when demanded on the basis of culture value. Rather, then, than on individual opinion must estimation of comparative value be based on culture results. But what constitutes culture? Is it ability to master in ordinary array numerous facts, devise and defend delightful theories, display extended and intimate acquaintance with art, history, or song? Is it held to consist in deep research into lifeless tongues, effete philosophies, degenerate religions? Shall it rest in useful citizenship, productive thought, inventive genius, polished rhetoric, political leadership? These one and all enter into the various conceptions of culture, and these all demand a hearing. Shall they be heard? And how?
I take it that the prime factor in any educational system lies in its power to discipline. The numerous facts which the young person gains during the brief period of four years in the best high schools represent but a very small portion of the sum that marks human attainment. Not the facts, nor their class alone, give the chief feature that is valuable in school life. The collation of facts from observation, their orderly and systematic arrangement, their intelligent discussion, their applicability to the circumstances of the individual by way of amelioration, their power to draw out and direct the best side of the mind, this is discipline. But is not this also applied science? Of such discipline the self is the end. It is not culture for a vocation, for professional training, nor is it culture for an end. It is discipline as a
It will be conceded, I presume, that all kinds of culture have not an equally important bearing on every line of activity in life; there is, or should be, occasion for discrimination and choice. Culture, or, if on please, discipline, ought to conform to this natural principle of selection. As a matter of fact and of experience it is found that a student usually accomplishes but little till a definite and settled purpose presides over his movements, or over his intellectual tendencies. The energies of youth are limited, naturally. To save from waste time, which has to a young man quite as much
value as effort, practical definiteness should be given to scholastic education. To this end, I believe, that selection of those practical or professional activities, which alone have been deemed most effective in conserving, importing, and transmitting the civilization of any age, should be singled out for school work. In this elective sense, and in this sense alone, every age has taught what it knew and taught all it knew. In former days the physical sciences were not taught because they were not known; they are taught now because they are known. A proper interpretation of the historic facts, therefore, assigns to the physical sciences, in their phenomenal and empirical aspects, a place in the foreground.
As a means of purely mental training I am disposed to accord the first place to physical science. There is involved more than a suggestion of mathematics, more than mere ability to frame correct sentences, more than memoriter exercises respecting isolated facts. Physical science means, if it mean aught, extended application of mathematical data and methods, statement of facts in other than sentential relations, the discovery whether for the first time it matters not of underlying laws. This is culture of the very broadest nature; this means ability to generalize; this constitutes the first stage in a successful intellectual career. I do not believe that one who is abundantly able to develop Sturm's Theorem, trace all the wanderings of the heroes of the Odyssey or the Eneid, outline the journeys of Paul in Asia Minor, or discover meanings in the "Taming of the Shrew," of which its great author never dreamed, can compete in intellectual vigor with the lad able to determine the constitution of a compound substance, decide correctly the affinities of a noxious, stranger plant, or to read facts older than the pyramid of Cheops in a scratched pebble found at the schoolhouse door. The one reads fictions long bereft of true educational value; the other deals with the facts of our daily lives. The one lives and thinks with an ancient, stranger people; the other breathes an atmosphere of intellectual activity and intellectual endeavor. The one deals with symbols with words as various in significance as are different the minds that use them; the other with laws, unchanging, necessary, logical. The one taught by novelists, dramatists, and poets whose function it is to create imaginary worlds, dwells in an ideal world constructed to suit himself; the other lives in the midst of things of practical accomplishment. It seems to me, therefore, that this difference in the mental aptitudes of students trained side by side, one trained in science, the other in a literature in which even the masterpieces of scientific writing find no place, will stand equally well for the probable values of their influence in after years in determining the current of events.
I would have, then, a still more extended pursuit of physical science in the high school. By this it is not meant that the additional work be in the line of new subjects, but that the time now devoted to belles lettres and ancient languages be curtailed; that the time thus gained be given, not to new subjects, but to the more extended prosecution of the few. The point sought to be enforced is that two or three subjects in science, involving observation, technic, and reflection, as botany or physics, zoology or chemistry, be prosecuted for
very much longer periods. The business of the high school is to train, to develop, to direct, not to give encyclopædic information nor to render the student an intellectual automaton. Its great aim is to awaken thought, not as an end but as a means. Divorce such awakening from the rhetoric of pure philosophy, from the generalities of literature, from the dicta of questionable schemes. Join it to the exact methods involved in scientific research- - whether original or in the lines laid down by another matters little; wed it to demonstration of natural law whether before known is unimportant; weld it indissolubly to those mental processes which involve the most intelligent ratiocination, and the high school curriculum has attained its maximum educational value. But this assumes increased attention to and prosecution of pure science, and in this, we believe, lies the best and greatest educational power.
Practical Character of the Information Gained.
Ten years ago, the English physicist, Professor Sylvanus P. Thompson, wrote the following: "And ought we, then, to be surprised if, in pursuance of the system we have deliberately marked out for the rising generation, we keep our future artisans, till they are fifteen or sixteen, employed at no other work than sitting at a desk to follow, pen in hand, the literary course of studies of our educational code, we discover that, on arriving at that age, they have lost the taste for manual work, and prefer to starve on a threadbare pittance as clerks or bookkeepers rather than gain a livelihood by the less exacting and more remunerative labor of their hands?" True it is that this remark was volunteered in defense of a proposed scheme for technical training - a scheme, the necessity of which is self-evident even in this country, as is witnessed by the establishment of numerous manual training schools. But this does not dull its edge nor blunt its point. The ordinary training in the high school is not suited to the demands of practical living.
It is idle, perhaps, to volunteer the remark that this is a wonderfully practical age and this great West a model of practical life. The conditions that make the environment here are not met by the ordinary scholasticism of the mother East. We can scarce do less, then, than recognize that the high school stands as the expression of the educational needs of a community. Those needs are limited or determined by the multitudinous business interests involved, and, though these be legion, sound economic theory and sound educational science alike demand their recognition in the various schemes of study. Such recognition has not always been accorded, and the small percentage of high school graduates stands somewhat in the attitude of menace to their perpetuity.
The boy or girl who is skilled in the necessary technic of the physical or chemical laboratory has become a most useful member of the community. There are no secrets that are unsearchable, no mysteries intangible, no hopeless intel lectual dabbling possible in the laboratory. Principles, system, painstaking manipulation rule therein, and they are necessary. To the one versed only in the arts of literature, the relations and significance of coulombs and atomic weights, of farads and valence, of amperes and reagents, are neither attractive nor necessary. But, if disciplinary value alone be sought, who shall say that intellectual training may not come as truly to him who intelligently uses a galvanometer or a burette as to him who traces his mother-tongue to its ancient stock? And if both are to be measured by manual skill, by ability to devise and to execute, to draught and to realize, who shall say that the student inducted into that truer field of investigation and deduction, implied in the proper
pursuit of physical science, has not an immeasurable advantage? He has, at command, a literature limited only by the bounds imposed upon physical research, methods as variant as the students who have trod the paths before him are different, opportunities for usefulness co-extensive with the physical needs or comforts of the highest civilization.
It seems to us that the time given to physical science in the ordinary high school curriculum is far too short to reach the highest practical advantages Usually such curricula encompass the whole round of scientific endeavor. A few weeks to this, somebody's "fourteen weeks" to that, and a term to a third subject these often without logical sequence and the boy or girl goes forth trained in science. Did I say trained? Forsooth, the first principles have not been mastered, the technic is entirely unknown. Add to this the positive, and, it will be granted, unfortunate fact that science subjects are taught by persons themselves untaught in either the matter or spirit of science, still less the method, and the cause of comparative failure is at hand. comparative failure, and use the term advisedly. We use it, because never less than a year is devoted to algebra, often more, usually an equal period to geometry, and the lion's share of the time is given to language work. All the disciplinary power possible is thus given to these subjects, and those who teach them recognize that time, and time alone, is productive of fruitful results. One, who in the face of such educational fadism, would dare suggest two years of botany or of zoology, three or four years of chemistry or of physics, would surely, like Paul, be thought "beside himself." And yet this is exactly the position we seek to defend. It will be conceded, we imagine, that science has disciplinary value, that its prosecution develops a most desirable phase of mental life, that in its exacting and painstaking methods it stands without a peer; it will also be granted that among those who have traversed its inviting fields, thought and written on what they have seen and felt, there are very many who have enriched, immeasurably, the liteture of their several lands; in short, it must be granted, it seems to us, that no phase of human thought exists which can be valuable for training in the high school that does not find an equally valuable counterpart in the sphere of science. The multitude of ways in which such knowledge and training may enter into every-day life, in every social condition, renders the argument of practical utility unanswera· ble.
The radical feature in science training lies in the assumption that even elementary education should "supply that exact and solid study of some portion of inductive knowledge," which Dr. Whewell long ago pointed out as a want in educational method. Through it education "escapes from the thralldom and illusion which reign in the world of mere words." The student's own examination and investigation of phenomena, his own conception of their relations and values, his own inferences concerning the laws he sup poses to underlie the surface of things, these all constitute the practical side of his education. In this sense, it seems to us, physical science possesses a paramount value, and should be placed accordingly in a wisely adjusted scheme for study.
The Tendencies of the Culture of the Day. Educational systems and schemes reflect, it will be conceded, the culture tendencies prevalent during their inaugu ral. It cannot, however, be assumed that their arrangement has always been best, or that it has always fallen into the wisest and safest hands. The fault